What is Non-Traumatic Brain Injury?

Brain injuries are not uncommon. Almost 2 million people in the U.S. sustain some type of new brain injury each year, and over five million live with the after-effects of brain injury. These numbers include both types of brain injury: traumatic brain injury (TBI) and non-traumatic brain injury (NTBI), also called acquired brain injury (ABI).

Traumatic brain injury has gotten a lot more attention, likely due to the often dramatic circumstances surrounding the injury. This is especially true with star athletes suffering career-ending head injuries and the heart-breaking stories of veterans with TBI-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Nonetheless, non-traumatic brain injuries result in the same symptoms and can be just as life-changing as those that originate with physical trauma.

What is NTBI Cause By?

Non-traumatic brain injury results from damage to the brain that does not stem from a blow or another sort of trauma. Occurring at the cellular level, non-traumatic brain injury often has to do with pressure on the brain that may come from a tumor or neurological illness, like a stroke. TBIs are usually caused by falls, motor vehicle accidents, acts of violence or are the result of military combat. Non-traumatic brain injuries are not caused by any type of blow or external action. They are, instead, most commonly caused by:

  • Exposure to toxic substances, including poisonings
  • Brain infections or inflammation
  • Loss of oxygen from strangulation, choking or drowning
  • Stroke
  • Heart attacks
  • Tumors
  • Aneurysms
  • Neurological illnesses
  • Substance abuse

Brain injuries can present in a wide variety of ways. While the majority of TBIs result in localized damage, most non-traumatic brain injuries (except tumors and local infections) are diffuse, meaning that the damage is spread throughout the entire brain. Nerve cells may die from the exposure to a toxic substance or be starved of oxygen during a near drowning. Degenerative diseases, like multiple sclerosis or Alzheimer’s, attack brain cells in various ways, not all of which are well understood.  Anyone with an autoimmune disease is constantly at risk of serious infection which can lead to an NTBI if the brain tissue becomes inflamed. Stroke victims are very susceptible to non-traumatic brain injuries due to lack of blood supply to the brain, which causes the brain cells to quickly start to die. Tumors restrict blood supply and some infections can create swelling in the brain.

Symptoms of Brain Damage

There are numerous symptoms of brain damage, falling into the categories of physical/perceptual and cognitive/behavioral:


  • headaches
  • difficulty with coordination
  • blurred vision in one or both eyes
  • general vision problems, including sensitivity to light
  • seizures
  • tremors
  • changes in sensory perception
  • trouble speaking
  • difficulty swallowing
  • changes in sleep patterns
  • incontinence and lack of bowel control
  • changes in sexual function
  • motor impairment


  • changes in personality
  • speech issues, difficulty forming sentences or choosing vocabulary
  • confusion
  • trouble communicating
  • difficulty with reason, focus, and logic
  • memory issues
  • depression
  • inability to concentration
  • mood swings
  • limited attention span
  • disorientation
  • difficulty remembering conversations/forgetfulness
  • inappropriate behavior

A non-traumatic injury does not necessarily result in long-term disability or impairment. The success of recovery will depend on the extent of the damage and treatment options, which will normally include some combination of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, as well as psychological counseling.

Contact Eisner

If you or a loved one has experienced a non-traumatic brain injury that affects your ability to work, you may be entitled to compensation. Eisner law firm has a team of experts then will evaluate your case to the fullest extent. Contact us today for use to examine your case.